One of the greatest safeguarding challenges we faced was what to do when a child or young woman was living in abusive circumstances. In our African countries, there are many barriers to those in these situations accessing safe alternatives including:
- Cultural norms that make this a taboo
- Threats of violence from family members if women and children leave their home
- Financial barriers to women and children finding alternative places to live
- Other living conditions also being dangerous
- Lack of support from the government
- Corrupt officials taking advantage of women and girls in these situations or not taking their legal obligations seriously
Mapping your support
An important part of us putting together our own policies and procedures, including understanding where we could find local training, was identifying local expert safeguarding organisations. These could either be other youth organisations, for example, with strong safeguarding policies and procedures, or safeguarding-focussed NGOs.
Speaking with them is a great place to start with your policies.
Be clear about what the law says
A fundamental part of developing your safeguarding policy is having a clear idea of what the law says. What are your legal responsibilities towards the women and girls in your project? The easiest way to do this is likely to be speaking to a:
- A local expert in safeguarding
- Expert local NGO in safeguarding
- Another youth organisation which you know has a safeguarding policy